While you are working at camp this summer you will end up as one of the most important and influential superheroes in a child’s life, and you probably won’t even realize it. This is why I want to talk about Camp Counsellors and the use of social media.
I don’t need to write about how amazing it is to connect with campers, because you either already know or you will know by the end of the summer; but, something that you may not be aware of yet is how social media can negatively impact your relationship with your campers, their parents, and your summer camp.
This summer is going to be amazing; you’re going to laugh, smile, and love everything. You’re going to form these great relationships with children and there won’t be a Like button or a # anywhere to distract you from the fun you’re having.
However, as soon as your campers are back on the bus home you can bet that they are turning on their phones and computers. Typical of our ‘plugged in’ generation, one of the most important ways to validate their summer experience and their new friendships is to add their favourite staff/counsellor as a friend on Facebook. This can lead to some boundary crossing: creeping through your profile, tracking your Twitter account, and gawking through your Instagram photos.
You may not have access to the Internet everyday, so the best way to be prepared for an influx of friend requests and followers after the end of a session is to set your boundaries before camp. You owe it to yourself, your employers and now to your campers to make sure that your social media accounts are not full of photos or content that could have a negative impact on your camp experience.
You know what we’re talking about – the Instagram photos from that boozy send-off you had with all of your friends before the summer, or the picture you put up on Twitter which probably isn’t child-friendly. If a camper finds those they’re going to think it is really funny and they’ll share it with their other camp friends and before you’ve even had time to reject their friend request one of them has already told their parents “that’s my counsellor from camp” and shown them the (probably unflattering) photo your buddy tagged of you celebrating the end of your exams – also, your camper’s parents have Facebook too you know!
Unfortunately, that’s not the end of it. Your camp director may now have to explain to that parent how amazing their child’s counsellor was at camp, and that the photo the camper saw is not an accurate reflection of your character (which it probably isn’t!), and unfortunately all the great things that you did with that camper during the summer will be overshadowed by a photo. There is even a chance that your camper’s parent will look for new camps with ‘more professional staff’ and that child’s summer was the last one with you as their counsellor.
To be honest, this probably isn’t what every camper is going to do, and some parents may even laugh it off because they were also 19 once, but it is still something that you should be aware could happen and will only take you a few minutes to avoid.
Spend 10 minutes right now double checking your privacy settings on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or anything else where the camper could find you. Even try typing your name into Google with your home town and see what you find. A simple exercise like this could save you a lot of embarrassment and potential upsets after camp.